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I am a New Zealand registered nurse and nutritionist (Grad Cert Sci: nutrition, Massey Univ). I am a Certified Zone Instructor, and have worked teaching Zone diet principles to hundreds of clients over the last 10 years. More recently after finding that eating Paleo food choices was the "icing on the cake" health wise, I have become a Paleo enthusiast and teacher. Follow me on twitter @juliannejtaylor

Pathology or environment gene mismatch? Drew Carey reverses symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

As my age leaps up another year, (my birthday) I’ve been reflecting on how well I am. If I took my current health it would look something like this:

Heart profile, blood pressure – excellent. Girly stuff – menstrual issues PMS, non existant. Weight – BMI 20.5. Strength good, (can do at least 15 man pushups in a row). Headaches, never get them. Joint inflammation – none. Gut issues – none. Viruses, virtually never get colds / flu, if I do it’s mild.

If you’d asked me 20 years ago:

Heart profile, blood pressure – good. Girly stuff – nasty breast pain and PMS, severe menstrual pain. Weight BMI 22. Strength: 1 or 2 man pushups, poor recovery after the gym. Headaches, at least monthly. Joint inflammation – TMJ (jaw) painful,  painful stiff neck, knees – regular fluid and swelling. Gut; indigestion with some foods, nearly always constipated, despite adding bran to meals. Colds / flu – 2 – 3 times a year. Gastro bugs 1 – 2 times a year. Dishydrotic eczema on hands and feet.

Okay – so that’s me. What about my clients? I have a checklist when I see clients, covering all aspects of health. Sleep, energy, gut issues, skin issues, hair and nails, menstrual, headaches, migraines, diabetes, heart disease,  etc. Most people tick a string of issues – like I used to. It’s as though normal life has pathology i.e. illness, low energy,  gut problems, aches and pains, high cholesterol and blood pressure, inflammation, menstrual and fertility issues and of course the spare tyre.

Why am I now symptom free (no symptoms of illness), yet 20 years ago had a string of problems? One difference and only one –  DIET. I’m no longer eating food that has a disconnect with my genes.

Imagine I’d been eating this way from the minute I was born? Would I ever have listed any health issue? No! No pathologies.

So lets look at pathology or illness in a different way: Illness is a reaction or survival mechanism of our body, to an environmental trigger that attacks the body.

Type 2 diabetes for example: when we overload our body with sugars (from excess carbohydrates) we react by increasing insulin in order to control our blood sugar and stop exceptionally high levels from damaging our body. However insulin is no benign substance, diabetes can result from continually stressing the pancreas (where insulin is made), cell receptor sites that insulin docks in to, and our liver that is constantly trying to deal with the excess sugar and fructose by turning into fat.

Doctors who are influenced by drug companies then try a plethora of drugs on diabetics, some push the worn out pancreas to increase insulin production, others try to improve the sensitivity of tired receptor sites on cells. However this does nothing to change the underlying issue – a diet that is too high in refined carbohydrates.

One story stood out to me in the many celebrity weight loss stories recently. Drew Carey’s weight loss. While headlines focused on his 80lb weight loss, what stood out to me was his reversal of his symptoms of Type 2 diabetes . Drew Carey, 52, said  “I was diabetic with Type-2 diabetes.”

Not anymore. After Carey embarked on a strict regime, shaving his diet of carbohydrates and hitting the gym religiously, he dropped 80 lbs. since January and says, “I’m not diabetic anymore. No medication needed.”

How did he reverse diabetes?

“No carbs,” Carey says. “I have cheated a couple times, but basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind. Egg whites in the morning or like, Greek yogurt, cut some fruit.”

He snacks on fruit, and for dinner he’ll have grilled chicken and steamed vegetables and water. “I don’t drink anything but water,” he says. “No coffee, no tea, no soda.”

Equally important, he says, is keeping up his workouts. (Exercise by the way increases insulin sensitivity.)

The key is in what Carey says – no grains, no legumes, no sugars, no artificial sugars, no starchy carbs, just fruit and vegetables. And lean protein. Sounds a lot like the diet that is in line with our genes. In part his success may have come from eliminating grains.

In a recent paper on grains and type 2 diabetes (T2D) Dr Loren Cordain states:

“Antinutrients introduced with the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago may be one of the causal factors in the epidemic of obesity, (as well as T2D) in Western countries. Lectins, saponins and gliadin increase intestinal permeability and allow increased passage of gut bacteria from intestinal lumen to peripheral circulation. LPS – an antigen found in gram-negative bacteria cell membranes – interacts with TLR-4, leading to inflammatory cytokine production and low-grade chronic inflammation, which is at the root of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is recognised to induce the metabolic syndrome, including T2D. Endotoxemia-induced insulin resistance in T2D patients may be exacerbated, in part, by antinutrients.”

So by removing grains and legumes from his diet Carey removed an environmental trigger for type 2 Diabetes. Grains are both high in glycemic load (blood sugar load) and anti-nutrients that we are poorly adapted to handle, they cause gut irritation and trigger inflammatory responses.

Imagine a world where we only eat food and live a lifestyle in line with our genes. High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, auto-immune illnesses, menstrual and fertility issues could be virtually non-existant.

I probably won’t happen. Our environment continues to become more and more disconnected from our genes. We have more processed and synthetic food to choose from, we are encouraged to eat grains as a “health food”. We get less exercise, less sun, less sleep and more stress. As a result the onus is on each individual to not only gain the knowledge of how to eat and live in line with our genes, but also to put this knowledge into practice. Our hunter gatherer ancestors had no choice. Their environment dictated that they exercised to collect food and water, that they eat fresh meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Without artificial light they slept long hours and got sunlight daily.

Our external environment does not push us to do anything in line with our genes anymore, so our only option to operate with a strong internal control in order to eat, live, and sleep to support our health. This calls for strong will – not something many of us are much good at in my observation.

For me personally – it’s worth the effort, to wake each day pathology free.

Sources:
People. Drew Carey: How I Lost 80 Lbs.
The Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain

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